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Whether in production, training or in the workshop, CNC technology is used everywhere. But what is CNC technology? What does CNC stand stand for and what do CNC machines actually do? In this article, we will quickly get you up to speed as to what “CNC” is all about as well as G Code.  Today, CNC technology is not only used in wood and metal machining but it you will find CNC technology in almost every industry.  Woodworking used to be a hand and power tool-only craft, but today CNC router machines can automate many tasks and not only improve the quality of the shop’s output but the speed in which the shop can turn out work.  It’s an exciting time to be a craftsman. 


The abbreviation CNC stands for “Computerized Numerical Control” and describes controlling a machine tool with the help of a computer. CNC technology developed from NC (Numerical Control) technology, in which machine tools were operated using punch cards in the 1960s. From the mid-1970s on, CNC machines used computer software to process workpieces automatically. Thanks to CNC, several axes can now be controlled quickly, accurately, and simultaneously. CNC technology has made it possible for shops to produce work that is very accurate, repeatable, with excellent finishes, and very cost-effectively.  


A CNC machine is a computer-controlled machine tool, such as a CNC router, a CNC lathe or a CNC milling machine. CNC routers can feature up to ten machining axis and are among the most common machine tools around the world. CNC mills can be found in tool and mold making, as well as in carpentry, woodworking and model making. Depending on the manufacturer and model, CNC machine tools can be equipped with a variety of different CNC accessories. This way, they can be converted into a CNC router, a laser, or a tangential knife.


G-code is machine language that a machine operator uses to tell a CNC-controlled machine how it should move and which tasks it should perform. The G-code consists of a sequence of number-letter combinations. Historically G-code for CNC machine tools used to be programmed manually, however, today it is generated mostly exclusively with CAD / CAM software programs. Once the G-code file is created, it can be loaded and read by CNC machine control software which interprets the code and sends signals to the CNC machine instructing it how to move and process your projects. 


CNC machines greatly enhance productivity. A CNC program that has been written once and saved can continually be reloaded and processed. Additionally, CNC files can be changed quickly and easily allowing the operator to move from one job to another efficiently. CNC production is very precise and the resulting jobs have a high level of tolerance and repeatability from one piece to another.  So if your shop has to make hundreds or thousands of the same part, you can count on every piece being identical when using a CNC machine. STEPCRAFT has CNC machines for the home hobbyist as well as high-production commercial applications, so no matter what type of job you need to produce, from cabinets and signage, or small hobby parts, you will soon find that the CNC machine is the most useful tool in your shop. 

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